Extreme heat and buildings

During the hot weather over the last few weeks I have learned a lot about air flow in my flat. I do not deal well with hot weather and tend to wilt easily. So the really hot weather was not good for me and I spent a lot of time finding ways to keep myself and my flat cool with out much success. Eventually I bought an air cooler which helps to a certain extent.

I live in a first floor flat in a complex of blocks of flats. Mine is top flat and faces direct onto the main road with bus stops outside on both sides of the road. My block adjoins another block at right angles so our entrance gives access to 3 flats on each floor. The prevailing wind tends to come down the main road.

I tend not to open windows on the road side because of the noise and the air pollution. As the sun shines directly into my living room window from sunrise I also keep the curtains closed. The other side of my flat does not get much sun at all, the only room getting sun is the kitchen in late evening. So I keep that window open wide with an insect mesh over it to deter flies and bees entering my flat. The kitchen is probably the coolest room in the flat. The air flow through that window will enter the bedroom next to the living room but not the living room itself. I put this down to the way the doors open. Like the windows which open in different ways, only one window lets the air flow through.

The temperature in my living room, even with the air cooler on has never yet gone below 27 degrees C during the last few weeks. Earlier this year the cavity wall insulation was replaced so we would be warmer. I have read recently that we have all insulated our houses to keep us warm in the winter and left nowhere for the heat to escape in the summer. Is it time to look at how we design buildings ready for the hotter weather to come in the future? It’s not about whether our house looks nice but about whether it will do its job by keeping us warm in winter and cool in summer. There is so much that can be done to make us use less energy but people and governments are reluctant to do anything about it. I have noticed that some new build houses have solar panels but not all of them. Some years ago small wind turbines which you could put on your roof were designed and up for sale at a reasonable price but local governments refused permission for them to go on the house roof for several reason none of which seemed right. Some 20 years ago I was in New Mexico in the USA where every house had solar panels and a small wind turbine on its roof. So some can do it so why not us?

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